[This story contains spoilers for Halloween]
“He’s waited for this night…he’s waited for me…I’ve waited for him,” Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode says before loading her tactical shotgun. She is prepared for war, a war many thought was over. They were wrong. Michael Myers is back. David Gordon Green’s Halloween, a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 original, sees The Shape (James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle) arrive in Haddonfield for a final showdown with Laurie Strode forty years after their original encounter. The film has been sold not only as a return to form for the franchise but also a conclusion to Laurie’s story, one that sees her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) drawn into the conflict as well. It’s this sense of conclusion, of ages of trauma bubbling to the surface, and two primal forces gazing at each other across generations, that makes Halloween feel so different from what’s come before, raising questions about what comes after.
Perhaps what’s most surprising about Halloween isn’t the showdown itself, but rather how definitive it all feels. While Halloween (1978) started the slasher movie boom and a never-ending cycle of sequels for itself and its imitators, complete with cliffhangers, Green, along with co-writers Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley take a different approach. The new Halloween feels singular. Yes, it’s forever attached to the original film, but like Carpenter and Debra Hill’s original it feels like a complete story, not a set-up for sequels. If the first film was about Laurie fighting Myers alone and losing, then the second is Laurie fighting Myers through the reconciliation of her family and winning. Trapped by three women whose lives he tore apart without ever uttering a word, Michael Myers is burned alive in the basement of Laurie’s bunker-house, just as she intended him to be. The Strode women send Michael to hell, and while we don’t see a body, the film’s final shot of Allyson holding a bloody knife, having inherited the survival instincts of her mother and grandmother, feels as concrete as any ending the Halloween franchise has offered.
But this is not an era of letting franchises die, especially not a brand as popular as Halloween. Despite how perfect an ending Green has constructed with this film, one that respects the legacy of Carpenter’s original and feels fittingly topical in today’s social climate, there will be more Halloweens. When interviewed by Forbes last month, producer and horror authority Jason Blum said, “I’d love to do sequels, and I hope we do a sequel and we will do a sequel if the movie performs. We’re not going to decide if we do a sequel or not until we see the reaction to this movie. But I really hope to make it.” The reaction is in, and as the box office numbers continue to come in over the weekend, it seems the decision over whether to sequelize will be easy. Just a few weeks ago rumors circulated that prep had already begun on the next installment. Green’s installment, managed to bring back not only Curtis as an executive producer, but also John Carpenter to compose the score and as executive producer, and Nick Castle in the role of The Shape. Halloween seems like a magic convergence of creative agreements that so rarely happens. The chances of all parties coming together like this again to create a sequel, one that is not only desired but necessary, seems slim. So what happens when Oct. 31 rolls around again?
In 1982, Halloween III: Season of the Witch managed to leave Michael Myers behind. The film, produced by Carpenter and Hill, but written and directed by friend Tommy Lee Wallace, introduced a new mythology, one that ditched budding slasher tropes for witchcraft, corporate evil, and deadly masks – masks which make cameo appearances in this latest Halloween film. While the lack of Myers led to a negative reception originally, fans have since turned around on Season of the Witch admiring its originality and catchy Silver Shamrock jingle. But Season of the Witch wasn’t just an attempt to turn away from Michael Myers, it was part of a larger vision that Carpenter and Hill saw for the Halloween franchise, one that would take an anthology approach with each sequel being focused on a different aspect of horror the night could unleash. Not only would we be getting different tales of terror, presumably produced and scored by Carpenter, we’d be getting them yearly. Of course, given the reaction and box office performance of Season of the Witch, Michael Myers returned in 1988’s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, which ended Carpenter’s involvement with the franchise until Green’s film.
There’s no better way to continue honoring the legacy of Carpenter and Hill than to return to that anthology idea. Blumhouse has proved to be ahead of the curve providing low-budget opportunities to filmmaker’s with original ideas, and has made a mint while doing so. Green managed to step up to the plate and deliver a worthy conclusion to Michael Myers’ story, and it seems counterproductive to ask other filmmakers attempt the same, lest we find the franchise in the same position it was in the ’90s and Michael Myers could simply be substituted with Jason or Freddy for the same effect. Surely, there could be more films with Michael Myers that entertain us and perhaps frighten us. But can there be more films featuring Michael Myers that have something to say? That seems far less likely. But by expanding the concept of Halloween as a film franchise to further encompass everything that we love about the holiday — “Black cats and goblins and broomsticks and ghosts, covens of witches and all of their hosts” as the children in Carpenter’s film chanted — we may have something much more exciting on our hands. We may be offered a chance to be surprised by Halloween on an annual basis. It’s time to rethink our notions of what the Halloween franchise is. It’s time to finally put Michael Myers to rest, and let evil take a new shape.